London, UK – November 7, 2023: Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa told Reuters that Egypt is on its way to meeting its 2023 tourism goals, including attracting 15 million tourists by the end of the year which is expected to earn more than $13 billion.
Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the World Travel Market fair in London, Issa explained that the ministry recorded tourist arrivals of 1.3 million from 80 countries in October, an 8 percent increase year-on-year, highlighting its significance amid the escalating war on the Gaza Strip.
"So far the impact is on the customers who have bought the regional products because the tourism sector in Israel has actually practically shut down, so this is where we're seeing the most significant impact,” the tourism minister explained.
Issa pointed out that less than 10 percent of Egypt’s total bookings were impacted since the start of the war. The Egyptian government launched new incentives to support tourism in the Southern Sinai region aimed at reducing the impact on its tourism industry.
The tourism minister explained that Egypt was offering an extra $500 of incentives per flight landing in Sharm el-Sheikh, and is working closely with wholesalers, retailers and airliners to keep them committed to Egypt.
The industry witnessed a significant growth of German tourists, accounting for 10 percent of 2023’s bookings. Not traditionally a large market for Egypt’s tourism industry, Chinese tourists strengthened tourism numbers by 7 percent year-on-year by the end of October, according to the tourism minister.
A key source of foreign currency in Egypt, the government aims to double the number of tourists over the next five years to reach 30 million tourists by 2028.
On Monday, S&P Global warned of the significant impact of the war on countries Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, due to their proximity to the Gaza Strip and Israel, adding that other Middle Eastern countries are unlikely to be affected. Similarly, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director shared the same sentiment during a panel in Riyadh in October.
S&P’s report included several scenarios for the countries, forecasting a decline in Egypt’s tourism revenues ranging from 10 to 30 percent, which could lead to a loss of 4-11 percent of the country’s FX reserves.
“That said, we expect multi- and bi-lateral donors will continue to support Egypt and Jordan since instability in these countries could spill over to the rest of the region,” wrote S&P.
In a dataset released earlier this week, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) recently revealed that Egypt’s international reserves saw a slight bump in October, hitting $35.1 billion compared to September’s recorded $34.97 billion.
For FY2022/2023, tourism revenues hiked by 26.8 percent year-on-year as the number of inbound tourists increased by 35.6 percent to about 13.9 million tourists, according to a separate report by the CBE.
In a previous interview with regional media, the tourism minister revealed that there are plans to add 25,000 new hotel rooms by mid-2024.
Issa also shared that the long-awaited opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum is slated for mid-2024.